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What Are the Different Types of Portable Power Tools?

A drill can be fitted with different drill bits to accommodate a variety of project needs.
Portable power tools include drills.
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  • Written By: Jessica Bosari
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2014
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Portable power tools are a general category of tools used in construction and manufacturing industries, designed to be easily moved from place to place. They are contrasted with standard tools, which are permanently mounted in a work space. The term generally refers to smaller hand tools that can be carried on a tool belt or easy transported in a tool box. They will either be electric tools powered through a cord, or cordless tools, powered by lithium ion batteries.

Portable power tools have emerged as necessities in many modern industries. Advances in lithium ion battery technology have made today’s versions lighter, easier to transport, and more powerful than their predecessors. Many tools that once required a power chord to sustain peak performance can now run effectively on lithium ion batteries.

Among the most commonly used portable power tools is the drill. Drills can serve many functions, simply by switching the bit. It can be used as a power screwdriver, auger, and of course, as a drill. Depending on the bit, a drill may be able to create a hole in wood, plastic, drywall, and metal. An auger bit is used to drill larger holes, and there are even circular bits for cutting holes several inches in diameter.

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Some portable tools are more specialized and less versatile. Examples of such tools are power wrenches and power hammers. While only able to perform one or two functions, these tools are smaller and lighter than traditional power tools, and often fit in a tool belt compartment. They are less powerful than drills or traditional hammers, but they work well for electricians and building maintenance workers.

Circular saws are used primarily for cutting planks of wood. When cutting large sheets of plywood, jigsaws are most often used. Both types of saws are available as portable power tools, and can make a carpenter’s job much easier. The reciprocating saw is one of the most versatile tools, able to cut through a variety of materials like wood, plastic, drywall, and even metal.

Sanders have long been some of the most useful power tools. Their small size and portability allow woodworkers to handle a variety of projects. Instead of lifting the wood to the sander, as with a table sander, the sander is brought to the wood. Modern sanders often feature bags to capture sander dust as well.

Portable power tools are often made with interchangeable batteries. This means that the same battery that powers the drill may also be able to power the sander. This has environmental benefits, creating fewer batteries for landfills.

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